Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Science snap (#23): Pacaya Volcano


NASA satellite image of the erupting Pacaya volcano, Guatemala. Credit: NASA

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala, is almost continuously erupting, making it one of Guatemala’s most active volcanoes and a popular tourist destination. The volcano last erupted on March 2, 2014, shown in the image here taken by the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite. Although the volcano has been kicking off since January, in March Pacaya erupted with small explosions and diffuse ash plumes, causing the opening of a new lava vent. The brown plume is clearly seen in the image and is travelling west, extending beneath the contrasting white clouds.

The Pacaya volcano is a part of the Central American Volcanic Arc, a chain of volcanoes stretching from the northwest to the southeast along the Pacific coast of Central America, formed by the tectonic subduction of the Cocos Tectonic Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate.





Elspeth is currently undertaking a PhD in Geology at the University of Bristol. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of ground deformation seen at a number of Kenyan Rift volcanoes. Elspeth tweets as @eamrobertson.